Let’s see…. debts ballooned to £350m. Steven Gerrard played like someone peed in his Cheerios. Every morning. Fernando Torres missed another half-season with another injury, only this time he started to figure out that playing as a lone striker in the down-and-dirty EPL might be why it feels like crowbars have been taken to his legs every weekend. In other Rafa-is-a-genius news, Lucas Leiva played all season and had precisely 2 memorable moments. Coincidentally, the only link between defense and offense this season seemed to come through Glen Johnson, who did eventually bleed goals at critical times. Liverpool finished 7th. They went 0-0 with the likes of Wolves and Burnley and were arguably the worse side. They were certainly the worse side when they lost to Portsmouth. And Reading. Even when they weren’t the worse side, beachballs would descend from the heavens to deflect in goals. Something like 14 players scored the highlight goal of their life against Liverpool, particularly in the first half of the season. Oh yeah, and David N’gog is still the #2 striker.
Now Liverpool is out of Champs, up for sale, has a manager who can’t decide if he’s staying or going, likely won’t spend this summer, needs a new stadium that may never come, and has one guy (Pepe Reina) who genuinely gives a crap about the shirt.
2009-2010, ladies and gentlemen:
Everything that went wrong can be summed up by the lightning rod that is Alberto Aquilani. First, Liverpool/Rafa buys him knowing he’s injured, but still pays somewhere between £17-£20 million for the honor of treating his boo-boos. And, surprise, he turns out to be hurt worse than expected and never settles with the team. That’s okay, though, because it’s totally unclear what to do with him once he’s healthy, because it turns out he plays the same position as the team captain, basically, and has no business fitting the role of the man he was supposed to replace, Xabi Alonso. Then Aquilani tries to shut his own season down ’cause his widdle anky didn’t feel so good, but the team and doctors insist he’s fine. He must believe them, because he proceeds to go on a tear to finish the season, consistently making plays for others and scoring some great goals. What does Liverpool do with this guy? Well, despite knowing the captain he mimics might move on Real Madrid, Liverpool may offload him for £7-£10m back to Italy.
To summarize, then, the wrong guy, who was hurt, was bought for way too much money to replace an irreplaceable star. He can’t seem to get healthy, and once he does, it’s hard to fit him in the lineup. When you actually displace the captain at the end of the year to let him shine (despite him trying to pull himself out for the year), he does well for the first time in years. Your probable decision at the end of all of this, when technically he’s shown more than he did when you bought him? Sell for half.
And that’s just the sort of roller coaster/freefall off a cliff that is the experience of modern Liverpool fandom.